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ADEA Educational Research and Analysis Portfolio — June 2015

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ADEA is excited to announce two new articles published in the May and June issues of the Journal of Dental Education. The ADEA Educational, Research and Analysis (ADEA ERA) portfolio published “U.S. Dental School Applicants and Enrollees, 2013 Entering Class report” and “U.S. Dental School Deans’ Perceptions of the Rising Cost of Dental Education and Borrowing Pressures on Dental Students: Report of Survey Results.” The report on applicants and enrollees chronicles important trends that show a steady growth in dental school applications and enrollment, and the report on the cost of dental education gives a detailed portrait of deans’ perceptions regarding the rising cost of dental education.

The total first-time, first-year enrollment in 2013 was 5,769, an increase of 5% from the 2012 enrollment of 5,483. The increase reflects expansion in class sizes at existing schools and the opening of new dental schools, although this figure is still below the peak dental enrollment in 1978 (6,301).

Interest in dentistry has grown steadily over the past two decades, resulting in a 137% increase in dental school applicants from 1989–1990 to 2012–2013, for an average annual growth rate of 11%. From the survey results, the total number of applicants remained relatively stable at 12,162 for classes matriculating in 2013, compared with 12,077 applicants in 2011–2012 and 12,039 in 2010–2011.

The overall percentage of underrepresented minority (URM) applicants and enrollees increased only slightly. URM students—Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander—made up 14% of the overall applicant pool.  

The “U.S. Dental School Deans’ Perceptions of the Rising Cost of Dental Education and Borrowing Pressures on Dental Students: Report of Survey Results” examines the top factors most affecting rising costs. The 2007–2009 recession resulted in drastic cuts to state and federal funding for higher education and impacted endowments for private and public institutions. Given such deep budget cuts, tuition and fees have risen considerably. These increases have placed a burden on both dental schools and dental students.

Deans reported that the top three reasons for increasing tuition costs are new clinical technologies, technology costs and central university taxes. They are aware of and concerned about the impact of tuition and fees increases on dental student debt and are implementing various strategies to address the growth in borrowing.

Deans are concerned about the rising tuition and are trying to find ways to help keep tuition and fees down. Thirty-eight percent said that to some extent expanded clinical revenue was a factor in keeping tuition and fees down, but only 17% said this helped to a great extent; 29% said that to some extent development/fundraising to provide additional financial support of institutions helped, but only 7% indicated this helped to a great extent.

The reports’ findings are important for dental educators, health professions advisors, and members of the broader dental community.

Duggan Dental